Laze & Royal Interview
|Artist:||Laze & Royal|
|Label:||Warner Bros. Records|
|Next Project:||Neighborhood Rapstar|
|Twitter:||Laze & Royal on Twitter|
|Website:||Laze & Royal's Website|
Bennett “Laze” and Justin “Royal” Talmadge Armstrong make up the rap duo, 2XL.
At 16 years of age the pair inked a deal with the long standing Tommy Boy Records and eagerly anticipate the release of their debut album, Neighborhood Rapstar, in February.
DJBooth.net’s DJ “Z” checks in with the guys as they discuss their path to the industry, their crazy fans and what most artists, regardless of age, don’t do that they excel in.
Listen to the 2XL Interview
Laze & Royal Interview Transcription
DJBooth.net: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy ‘Z’ doin’ it real big on DJBooth.net—and on the phone with me—Reppin’ L.A. because they’re just too big—the boys Laze and Royal—that make up 2XL! How ya doin’ fellas?
2XL (Laze & Royal): Yeah we’re all right man.
DJBooth.net: I appreciate you guys takin’ the time to join me here on the show I understand you guys have an album dropping on February 20 named Neighborhood Rap Stars. Now I need to hear straight from your mouths why you are rap stars?
2XL (Laze): Thank you—yeah, we took the concept from neighborhood rap in our neighborhood. We been doin’ the independent grind for so long, like from around where we live we were already stars. We have little kids come up to us wearing little 2XL T-shirts—from when we got are start in March of 06. Like a lot of people get their start regionally, they’re so many people who are stars, before anybody hears them, at the national level. When they become nationally famous, they already had their start in their neighborhood We took the concept and ran wit’ it. As Neighborhood Rap Stars, that’s the name of the album and we’re really excited about it, we just took our experience from there. Like you said it comes out February 20. We got some heavy hitters on there. Our first single, we’re shootin’ a video next week, with producer Scott Storch. We actually wrote it with our cousins Cherish, in Atlanta. We’re really excited about it. Things are startin’ to pop up, you know tha deal.
DJBooth.net: I actually got a chance to take a listen to the remix of Magic City, featuring my man Unk, also in Atlanta. So you guys are definitely doin’ big things. You mention you got signed with Tommy Boy, this past March, but people might not know, you’ve been on the grind for a long time. I believe 6 years is what I read in your bios. Over the last 6 years fellas, how has your material changed? Going through puberty, getting older, and all the different experiences in your life, where are you guys at right now, at the age of 16? Royal why don’t you go ahead and answer that?
2XL (Royal): Aw man—it’s crazy, like even now while we got our deal we’re still growin’ as human beings-we’re still growin’— its crazy still being young. It’s like our material we cut 5 months ago—we saying’ ‘na we don’t like that’ and change it. We went through all the different stages in our lives, we pretty comfortable with where we find ourselves right now in this stage of our life. And our stuff just keeps getting’ better and better after being exposed to so much. We actually feel that right now, in this stage of our lives we are in a good position, we really know—we finally found out what “2XL” is.
DJBooth.net: Guys, a lot of people might say at the age of 16 you guys don’t have enough life experience to truly have content on your album, but I know for a fact that you guys have gone through a lot more then a lot of people have—especially at 16 years of age. Your mom was diagnosed with cancer almost ten years ago. So growing up, you guys went through a lot. How did that change your perspective?
2XL (Royal): Yeah, without a doubt [that’s what I’m talkin’ about] she was diagnosed with cancer at an early age, so we basically raised ourselves. We had a mother, but she couldn’t help us. She couldn’t raise us—that really made us become independent. We had a single mother household. We didn’t have a male figure to look up to. We had to be real independent, and see what’s out there. We made a lot of mistakes that we had to learn from to help us grow. We got to take initiatives to raise ourselves to become real men. Like even now, just 10 months ago or so she just got diagnosed with another tumor. She’s still sick. So now she’s up in a place right now even to this day, it’s not like it was 10 years ago when she had cancer. Even though we got a deal now, it’s still a struggle. We’re still livin’ man. We got to pay for our own gas, pay our own rent, even to this day it’s a struggle.
DJBooth.net: It’s amazing too, because everybody else assumes, [that as customers, as the American population], as soon as you become a star and you’re in the limelight that your life is amazing, but everybody has problems, no one’s different, everyone has issues and it points in your direction, because you guys were able to go through all that and to overcome adversity and also make a name for yourself musically. Which is what I want to focus on right now, this album. You mentioned earlier about some collaborations, some producers. As artists, what are your strongest capabilities in the rap game? What do you both do the best? Laze, why don’t you start.
2XL (Laze): Like you say man, everything that we went through, a lot of adversity, and we turned it into a positive. Our strengths collectively, before I even get into individual, is just that our bond—our connection as brothers, we understand each other. We bring somethin’ as a group, that hasn’t been done before. It’s really not about us as individuals. It’s just that like for myself separate from my brother, I just bring that in-your-face flavor. You know what I’m sayin’? I mean I’m a little bit more ecstatic, where my brother Royal is a little bit more smooth.
DJBooth.net: Royal, would you agree with that?
2XL (Royal): Yeah, I would completely agree with that—really a strong point, especially at our age, is our songwriting—we used to do mix tapes and Freestylin’ and all that, like a lotta cats can do, but they can’t write there own songs. We are the first of our age, we write good songs, we write for other artists who can’t write music. Another strong point is producin’. We’re the first kids who write in the teen.
DJBooth.net: Very impressive. You guys write your own material, tell me that you guys own your own publishing…
DJBooth.net: Beautiful—because if you said no, then I was going to have to be your business manager, because that’s the key right there and you guys got that on lock. I’m impressed.
2XL (Laze): I got a big publishing check just two days ago.
DJBooth.net: Don’t tell me how much it was for because I don’t want to get jealous. Guys, with bootlegging and Internet downloads—for a lot of artists—achieving the status of gold and platinum is hard now adays. Now knowing the position your in with Tommy Boy, they’ve been around the block for quite some time, what is going to be a level of success for you guys to say that you’re happy? What do you need to see with this album in order to say “You know what, we made it big!”?
2XL (Royal): Here’s what we live by—ok we made it big. but we just like to keep in mind, that (high) expectations always lead to disappointment and set you up for failure. You know what I’m sayin’? Like I said, music is our life in the studio at 4 in the morning everyday—regardless of what we achieve we would still be workin’. If we were workin’ at Burger King, we would still be goin’ to the studio after that and still be happy—You know what I’m sayin’? We’ve seen so much in our lives. We came from a bunch of different hardships—and over came them, so if we sell 3,000 records, we still would be happy or 3 million we’d be happy. And that’s not like cornball stuff or some preachy stuff. We got a deal now, but we still have that neighborhood rap style mentality—we have that independent mentality.
DJBooth.net: Definitely, and to get there promotionally, what do you have Laze goin’ on right now to make sure people know what’s up. Are you doing radio tours, concerts?
2XL (Laze): Oh yea man, actually in December, we were gone for um—a whole south tour, it’s cra-azy! Our first time we were away from home that long— it was 5 weeks. We went to radio stations, we went to lunch with the DJs. It was a real good experience. We did a whole tour 40 city tour.
DJBooth.net: And you’re on the phone with me so; you guys definitely got your priorities pretty strait. You said you’d been tourin’. I’m sure you guys get a lot of attention from the ladies and I checked out your website. I understand there is the ability for you guys to receive e-mail from your fans. Now I want to know, what is the absolute craziest, weirdest, funkiest you name it, e-mail or message [whether it be by you’re MySpace account or your web page] you have ever received? Who was the craziest Neighborhood Rap Star groupie-wannabe of the year?
2XL (Royal): Ha-ha-ha [laughing] Man, we not gonna put like anyone’s individual name out there, but we got a few crazy ones, from the ladies as far as you could go with an e-mail. Yeah we got some pictures You know what I’m sayin?
DJBooth.net: Are these unclothed pictures, guys?
2XL (Royal): Yeah, lets leave it like that. And I’ll say another thing—we got some other things like really weird stuff I’ll say for real, from both females and males
DJBooth.net: Okay! Guys!
2XL (Royal): You said crazy and weird e-mails
DJBooth.net: Yeah well you know what? Listen, if it means you’re sellin’ music and stuff appealing to everybody, I guess in that limelight, it’s good. Right?
DJBooth.net: All right, 2007 you guys are just gettin’ started, so at the end of the year, what do you guys hope to have accomplished after a years worth of work?
2XL (Laze): I would say on the production side, we would like to get another artist and to get them a deal. We gotta finish our second album, because the labels tryin’ to hurry up and finish the second album, that would be a big accomplishment It should be out in November. So basically, we gotta keep workin’, and not get caught up in all the stupid stuff that people get caught up in. We gotta continue to stay humble and keep workin’
DJBooth.net: Well the album comes out in Feb 20th and I wish you guys nothing but the best of luck and I hope everybody goes out and picks up two.
2XL (Royal): Yeah, and also buy one for your cat and your dog and your gold fish.
DJBooth.net: Yes 7—8-9-10—as long as it’s at least one, that’s all that matters.
2XL: Thank you man!
DJBooth.net: Whats the URL for that website so my readers and your fans can log on and find out about you?
2XL (Royal): Yeah you already know! Myspace.com/2Xlworld. Our website is just like that, www.2XLworld.com. We’re real hands-on wit’ our fans—well not hands-on—Oh not that hands-on
DJBooth.net: [Laughing] Ha-ha, yeah-okay guys—get out of that one.
2XL (Royal): You understand what I’m sayin’ man, like If anybody wants to talk to us we, will talk them. Anybody can hit us up, and we’ll get back to them, maybe not right a way, but we will. Thank you for this opportunity. We’re humble dudes.